Apple banned the Facebook Research App from being available for download on the app store at the beginning of the year. The app used incentives to get people to allow them to access their data which included their web searches, private messages, location data, and more. It also gained understanding to the users app habits by gaining access to network data in and out of their device. A $20 gift card was offered to users as young as 13 years old in exchange for this information.The developers of the app claims that the information gathered was to be used for market research with the goal of identifying their competitors.
Back in 2013, Facebook introduced an app called Onavo Protect which collected similar data as the Facebook Research app. Apple asked Facebook to remove this app from the App store because it violated Apple’s data collection policies. The app was then rebranded to be Facebook Research and was available for user download once again. But this time, users were allowed to side-load the app on iPhones and iPads and bypass the Apple App Store. This violated all of Apple’s policies that have been set in place and led to the company’s developer credentials being revoked.
According to a new letter from Facebook to Senator Richard Blumenthal’s office, the Facebook Research app collected data from 187,000 people in the United States. 4,300 of those people the app gathered data from were teenagers.
It is important to keep your iPhone private and protect it from data collection apps similar to the Facebook Research app. Having your information available like this can put you at risk for hacking, device theft, and of course data harvesting as it was used by the Facebook Research app.
You can protect your device from these dangers by tweaking your privacy settings to maximize your iPhone security. For example, enabling two-factor authentication can help to secure your iPhone. This will help to lockdown your accounts even more so that it is not so easily available. Location tracking can be disabled in the privacy settings. By disabling this, you can save yourself from the worry of a lot of your personal information from being present of the data selling market. Taking the time to review your app permissions can also help you to take control of your personal information and give yourself an idea of how much data each app provider is potentially collecting. By taking these precautions, you can give yourself more protection than the default settings and save your personal information from the dangers of apps like Facebook Research.